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TANKERS: Murray, Cantwell Lead Bipartisan Effort to Ensure Illegal Subsidies Are Accounted for in Tanker Decision

Dec 15 2010

Washington state Senators work to include provision in pending Senate bill to force the Pentagon to ensure a fair competition

Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state led a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators in calling for fairness in the competition to build the next generation of Air Force aerial refueling tankers. In a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, the Senators called for the inclusion of a critical provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Department of Defense to take into account the impact of illegal subsidies on the KC-X tanker competition.

Senators Murray and Cantwell are co-sponsors of a Senate amendment that would require the Pentagon to take into account the unfair advantage provided by illegal subsidies.

“The simple truth is that we won’t have an even playing field in this competition until the impact of illegal foreign subsidies are factored in,” said Senator Murray. “The U.S. government and the World Trade Organization have both come to the conclusion that these subsidies give Airbus a competitive advantage and that they have cost us American jobs. Especially in this economy, the Pentagon can’t ignore these subsidies that leave American aerospace workers fighting an uphill battle.”

“I’ve been calling for a level playing field all along in this competition,” said Senator Cantwell. “We cannot have a foreign subsidized plane low-balling its bid in a competition for one of the largest Defense contracts in U.S. history. The Pentagon must consider the WTO ruling when deciding the tanker contract if this is to be a fair competition.”

Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Kit Bond (R-MO), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also signed onto the letter.

The following is the full text of the letter:

December 15, 2010

The Honorable Carl Levin
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

Chairman Levin:

We write to express our strong support for language to ensure a fair competition for the KC-X Air Force tanker contract in the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.  Especially in this economic climate, Congress should act to protect American aerospace jobs from unfair competition and to restore fairness for our aerospace workers.

In particular, we urge you to include section 848 of H.R. 5136, which was passed by the House of Representatives on May 28, 2010.  This section requires the Department of Defense to take into account the impact of illegal subsidies on the KC-X tanker competition.  Section 848 requires the Department of Defense, in awarding that tanker contract, to consider any unfair competitive advantage aerospace companies may possess.

The House of Representatives has already demonstrated strong bipartisan support for this language.  Section 848 passed in the House as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 410-8.  We strongly urge you to retain section 848 in any final version of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

Thank you for your continuing work on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.  We look forward to working with you in the days ahead to pass a defense authorization bill in this Congress that ensures a level playing field for the Air Force KC-X tanker contract.


U.S. Senator Patty Murray
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senator Sam Brownback
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts
U.S. Senator Kit Bond